So Near Yet So Far

Jane

It was the very early hours of Day 28 of my medically induced cycle and I was clutching my first ever positive pregnancy test in my hands. I was in disbelief. Could I allow myself to believe this was really happening. Was I actually pregnant?! My husband was chuffed to bits but all I could see was the faintest of lines. Why wasn’t it darker? Could it be residual hormones from the trigger shot I’d had two weeks previously?
On Day 29, a slightly darker line but still faint. A glimmer of hope that finally after months of turmoil we were going to get our happy ending. I send the photo to my acupuncturist who confirms it’s definitely a positive. Let’s just wait for tomorrow, then it will be darker.
Day 30. Negative. Dream shattered.

Sadly our first IVF cycle resulted in a chemical pregnancy, confirmed with a blood test in what would have been the fifth week of gestation. The embryo we had created through 21 days of down-regging, 10 days of stimming, and five days of incubation had implanted and produced the hCG hormone resulting in two positive pregnancy tests but some time shortly after implantation I experienced a very early miscarriage.
In the days following the embryo transfer I experienced period like cramps which made it very difficult to determine whether the twinges in my abdomen were caused by period, pregnancy, or just side effects of progesterone pessaries. I did however have an unfamiliar dragging feeling in my uterus and an increased body temperature. And then on Day 30 my temperature dropped dramatically. I woke in the morning feeling desperately cold. Call it women’s intuition, maybe I’d even be allowed to call it mother’s intuition, but I knew in that second we had lost our tiny little embryo.

As you will know from my previous posts we have always tried to be focused on the task in hand; hopeful and positive. Despite the crippling fatigue we’d had an uncomplicated cycle and thanks to you lovely readers we were able to live alongside IVF rather than in it. Nine months earlier we had been told that my husband had azoospermia. The odds had been totally stacked against us but with each day we had reached a new milestone. After a change in his diet, his sperm count had gone from untraceable to detectable; the most amazing news. Now we had to cross everything and hope we could get the sperm naturally. I remember laying on the ward before egg retrieval desperately hoping this would be the case. The nurse poked her head around the curtain and casually said to my husband ‘your sample is fine’. The relief was immense. He didn’t need to go into theatre for the Surgical Sperm Retrieval procedure.

My pre-treatment scan had detected 20 follicles so it was a little disappointing to come around after anaesthesia to the news we had the lower end of average collected with 8 eggs. The following day along came the next hurdle. Would we get fertilisation? We had sperm but would they be healthy enough?

Four of the eight eggs fertilised. ICSI would normally produce a 65% fertilisation rate so this was on the low side but we’d overcome our biggest fear and in the lab we had conceived! I wanted to march up (or waddle – I was in a bit of discomfort after the procedure) to the doctor who had told my husband so flippantly that he would never conceive.
The Day 5 transfer came with just one embryo making it to blastocyst stage. We were putting everything on black with nothing to freeze.
We left the clinic clutching the photo of our embryo and the scan of my uterus with the teeny dot; the fluid that showed the trace of new life. The marker of the most incredible experience of both our lives was when we watched a flash of light across the monitor as the embryo was placed safely in my uterus.

And then came the waiting. After friends, family and medical professionals had all said how level-headed and focused I had been during treatment, I was shocked at how much I struggled with the two-week wait. Perhaps that’s one to write about another time.

If our IVF had resulted in a successful healthy pregnancy I’m sure I would look back on the last eight weeks and think how incredible it was that a short intense investment of time and emotional upheaval resulted in what we have been waiting for over several years. However it’s difficult to have the same perspective when all you’re left with is a broken heart. We faced the questions as to when we will try again but it has been difficult to look forward when my body was still stuck in the past. It wasn’t until 8 days after the negative pregnancy test that my body began to bleed which stalled the grieving process. For over a week I wondered if maybe they had got it wrong. It’s still early days but I can’t believe how something smaller than a grain of rice has left such a huge hole. I wonder if the ‘what might have been’ will ever leave?

Despite the sadness I have been determined to find positives from the experience. Fertility treatment can make you bitter and resentful and I’ve resolved to take something from this unsettling and isolating process. In the last year or so I’ve lost count of the unintentional cruel remarks and thoughtless comments from so many people. Conscious of this, I’m growing to be more self-aware. I hope I can learn to be a more empathetic and compassionate wife, friend, daughter, sister, auntie and ultimately, more prepared for motherhood.
Our follow-up appointment was very in-depth and we have so many unexpected things to consider before we try a second time as well as the financial implications. I can’t thank you enough for all the support and kindness you have shown me and hopefully once we’ve had some breathing space and my body has recovered I’m sure I’ll be back to share my experience of climbing aboard the fertility treatment rollercoaster once again. I’ve always been one to face my hurdles head on, and with reflection I know I will be determined to tackle this in the same way.

Photography by Little Beanies.

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A cautious optimist sharing her experience of IVF and ICSI. Making the most of the unexpected.

20 Comments. Leave new

I’m so sorry to read this jane. You have really eloquently captured the heart break and upset that living with infertility causes. I know from my own experience that there are no platitudes or words that can ease the unbareable sadness and disappointment that a failed cycle brings; the only thing I can offer is some advice that one of the nurses offered us during our IVF cycle. She explained that whilst a negative cycle is obviously heart breaking, from a medical perspective they will gain lots of information from the process in terms of how you respond to the drugs etc that will inform the next time (if you decide to go again) and that will increase the odds second time round. Big hugs to you all xxx

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Thank you for your kind words Rachel.
We have learned so much and I would be put on a higher stimming dose next time . I just wish there didn’t have to be a next time! Jx

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Thank you for sharing. You have written about it beautifully. My heart goes out to you x

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Thank you Bridget, I found it very cathartic. Jx

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Aww Jane, so sorry to read this this morning. Heart broken for you and your husband, and also in awe of your resolve, determination and self awareness. Fingers crossed for you both as you go forward on this journey, we’re all routing for you xo

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Thanks Helen. I have felt very fragile recently so it’s lovely for you to comment on my resolve. I really am hopeful that we’ll get there one day. Jx

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Jane, I’m so sorry to read this. I know how difficult IVF is. I think your positivity and resolution to find positivy throughout this process is inspiring and will no doubt only serve to help you going forward. Wishing you all the best for the future. Xx

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Thank you Angela. Thankfully I’m a positive person but it can be hard to look on the bright side! Thanks for your kind words. Jx

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Jane, I’m so sorry to read this. Sending you and your husband all the positivity and as many smiles as you can manage at this time xx

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Thank you Sophie. Jx

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Jane, I am so sorry that you and your husband have had to go through this heartbreak. It’s hard for our family and friends to understand, unless they have been in a similar situation. It’s a different type of grief, one of what ifs and maybe if, and often self flagellation and blame. In February, my fiancee and I didn’t have any ICSI embryos make it to blastocyte stage, or transfer, which was not a situation we had prepared for mentally, and even now it still breaks my heart. There is always hope, have courage and be kind to each other. Take care.

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My heart goes out to you Catriona and I hope if you decide to go again that there were lots of learnings for the clinic to take.
Please be gentle with yourself too. I wish you all the very best. Jx

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Jane I’m really sorry to read about this, but so glad you had the courage to write about it as I’m certain it will be so helpful for so many readers to know they are not alone. I have so many friends who have been through this, some very recently, and the financial reality of multiple IVF cycles is so cruel, let alone the hormonal and emotional rollercoaster. I have everything crossed that it will work out next time, if you choose to go down that route.

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Thank you Annie. I think that it’s very likely we’ll go again we would like to process everything first. There was so much information thrown at us!
I’m not sure we can afford to do it more that once so next time would be our last. Jx

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Hi Jane
I was really sad to read your news. Thank you for sharing such a painful and personal experience. Its really hard to know what to say to offer any comfort but I am sending you hugs from sunny Cornwall. Your positive approach continues to inspire and encourage me. Xx

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I hope everything is going well with your treatment Sarah. Sunny Cornwall would be a perfect escape! Jx

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Hi Jane
I just wanted to say I have also been through what you described and you described many of my feelings. I’ve done two fresh IVF cycles and on both times I started bleeding on 6dp5dt (6 days after a 5 day blastocyst transfer) but on the second time I tested positive for a few days. It was so bitter sweet – I was so happy my body had finally produced hcg but so very sad I couldn’t keep the pregnancy going. I was also angry – angry the clinic couldn’t make it stay, angry that we’d have to do it all again when others get pregnant every day so easily, angry we had no one to turn to because we didn’t want to tell anyone and yet desperately wanted to at the same time. I’ve come to terms with the loss now and in January will transfer our first frozen embryo which I know we’re very lucky to have.
Stay strong and be kind to yourself. I appreciated reading your story. Thank you for sharing.

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Hi Louise, My acupuncturist has said there’s higher success rates with frozen as the body is under less stress so it’s wonderful that you mention you have one in the freezer! Wishing you all the best for your January transfer. Jx

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I was in your boat this time 2 years ago. We didn’t make it to testing day and I bled on Christmas Day ending our dreams.
Last Christmas we were 25 weeks pregnant after a successful 2nd round (frozen) and this year we’ll be sharing our Christmas dinner with the healthiest, happiest 8 month old you’ve ever seen.

That will be you. There’s nothing to say to make the process easier-ICSI and IVF is a unique kind of torture and we all deal with it in our own way. But it is amazing and miracle babies come from it everyday. One day one of them will be yours.

Drink mulled wine, eat blue cheese and do all the naughty things you can’t do (not that you’ll mind one bit).
X

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My heart goes out to you, Jane. I admire your strength and how you write about it. I’m sending you lots of love and some of my hope that people like you who deserve to be parents will receive their little miracle baby!

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